Thursday, November 17, 2005

Trinidad and Tobago had come heartbreakingly close in 1989 ... when Paul Caligiuri of the United States put the boot to the two-island nation on the final day of qualifying.

Americans remember that day with a touch of sadness and guilt. Never have we seen such sportsmanship as we saw that November day in Port of Spain. The stunned fans, all of them wearing red, patted American journalists on our backs, congratulating us, as if we had anything to do with it.

Caligiuri remembers that day, not only for his booming 25-yard goal in the first half, but also for the way the Yanks were treated after the game.

"We arrived in two little vans and walked right through the crowd," Caligiuri recalled the other day. Then, after the 1-0 victory, the United States had to leave in the same two flimsy vans.

"I've played in Latin America and the Caribbean, where they throw rocks at you, the military police have to stop them from rocking your bus," Caligiuri continued. "Never, ever, did you hear people congratulate you the way people did in Trinidad."

-- New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey, watching the big match with a bunch of Trinis in Flatbush & remembering that fateful November day 16 years ago. (NB: You'll have to register for TimesSelect to read the piece.)

Also: over at Caribbean Free Radio, Georgia has posted podcast #36, "Germany, here we come!", documenting last night's victory celebrations in Port of Spain. I pop in once or twice, usually sounding a little stunned....

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